Arkham Horror: The Card Game
Last week I started playing a new game, I mentioned it at the time, Arkham Horror The Card Game.
I’m using the full title there not to confuse it with regular Arkham Horror that I guess it’s kind of based on. I don’t know for sure though as I haven’t played that.
I’ve played a fair bit more of it now and feel confident talking about it a bit more in depth.
This game is great! I bought it mostly so I would have a decent, quick to set up/tear down game that plays as well solo as it does with others. It definitely is all of that, but it’s a lot more too. This is the first LCG I’ve truly loved.
I should back up and explain what an LCG, or Living Card Game, is first shouldn’t I?
Okay, so most card games fall into a few categories; you’ve got your all in one box full games such as 7 Wonders Duel, Fluxx, Monopoly Deal and yes, a deck of cards. Then you have the type of card game that was and still is most prevalent, Collectable Card Games, CCGs are the kind of game you buy a starter deck for and then constantly expand and change by purchasing booster packs of a handful of cards. Magic The Gathering has been the big dog in that genre for over twenty years at this point, but everyone knows Pokémon cards and the formula is an easy cash cow if the game takes off.
Then you have Living Card Games, popularised, maybe even created by, I’m not sure, Fantasy Flight Games. One of the premier games companies out there.
LCG’s are a hybrid of the two other types of game. They are consistently releasing expansions and new cards for you to add to the game but they have taken away the element of chance, randomness and manufactured rarity you find with CCG’s. Every set that is released has set cards in it, meaning for a competitive game no one can have a better deck simply by luck or by purchasing more than other people; the LCG format removes the ‘pay-to-win’ factor.
The other thing that this allows FFG to do is create an ongoing narrative in their games. I can’t speak to the licences properties but in the couple of games that I have played, Arkham and Netrunner, each new set released furthers an ongoing story with prose and with flavour text on the, very thematic for each set, cards.
Fantasy Flighy have created LCG’s based on all of the licences they hold; Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones and of the solely gaming properties they run as well such as Legend of the Five Rings, until recently Android: Netrunner and the Arkham Horror franchise of games.
As I’ve mentioned before, Ed and I started playing Netrunner a little while ago, despite the fact that it is no longer being produced. We have a couple of sets and enjoy playing against each other. It’s an amazingly well made game, but it ran for a long time and we only picked it up after it was complete. With a total card pool of over a thousand and many sets there’s no way either of us is going to invest in all of that just to play against each other.
Which brings me all the back round to Arkham. A game I picked up to play mostly solo, something that is an option as even with multiple players it is a cooperative game where you play against a predetermined deck of enemies, monsters, cultists and other Lovecraftian baddies.
The mechanics are simple to learn and the handy reference card you can keep close by helps guide you through each step of the games rounds.
That by no means makes this an easy game. Far from it. The introductory scenario does a great job of ramping up as you go so that by the time you think you’ve almost won, a much more powerful enemy spawns in to start harassing you.
Depending on your play style you can choose to fight this enemy or simply flee, but as this is an ongoing narrative the choices you make have an effect on games going forward.
The release schedule for Arkham is very cleaver too. The core set comes with three scenarios, any of which can be played on their own but combined together tell one story. After that new campaigns start in a deluxe expansion, price a little lower than the core box but containing almost as much content, a roughly equal amount of new cards just none of the tokens used in the game. These expansions will have a couple of new scenarios then lead into the smaller, monthly released mythos packs which each contain one new chapter to the story, new enemies and upgraded player cards. Once that story cycle is completed a new deluxe box is released starting a new campaign.
It’s a very cleaver release format as, while there are always new products available, you’re not forced to buy each new pack to stay competitive like you do with a lot of other games.
That was always a turn off for me for a lot of that type of tabletop game.
Even among other card games that encourage you to customise and build your own player deck I’ve never put much time or effort into doing so, generally just looking up a good one online and using that. But with this game I’ve thoroughly enjoyed sitting through the cards available to the chosen character and building a deck that I think will work best for the given scenario.
Arkham Horror The Card Game is a board game hiding as a card game and it’s excellent. I look forward to playing it for years to come.